Science & Technology
New Study: Corn Ethanol Reduces GHG Emissions PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jeremy Funk   
Friday, 17 January 2014 13:20

Posted on January 16, 2014 by Joanna Schroeder

According to a new study, that compared the greenhouse gas emission reductions of corn ethanol and those of crude oil production and fracking, corn ethanol’s carbon intensity is declining while the carbon intensity of petroleum is increasing. The study was conducted by Life Cycle Associates and found that the carbon impacts associated with crude oil production continue to worsen as more marginal sources of fuel are introduced into the fuel supply.

According to the report, “As the average carbon intensity of petroleum is gradually increasing, the carbon intensity of corn ethanol is declining. Corn ethanol producers are motivated by economics to reduce the energy inputs and improve product yields.”

The study, commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), found that average corn ethanol reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 32 percent compared to average petroleum in 2012. This estimate includes prospective emissions from indirect land use change (ILUC) for corn ethanol. When compared to marginal petroleum sources like tight oil from fracking and oil sands, average corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 37-40 percent.

As more unconventional crude oil sources enter the U.S. oil supply, and as corn ethanol production processes become even more efficient, the carbon impacts of ethanol and crude oil will continue to diverge. The study predicts that by 2022, average corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 43-60 percent compared to petroleum.

“The majority of unconventional fuel sources emit significantly more GHG emissions than both biofuels and conventional fossil fuel sources,” according to the study. “The biggest future impacts on the U.S. oil slate are expected to come from oil sands and fracking production.” In the absence of biofuels, “…significant quantities of marginal oil would be fed into U.S. refineries, generating corresponding emissions penalties that would be further aggravated in the absence of renewable fuel alternatives.”

The study also reveals several fundamental flaws with the GHG analysis conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) regulations. Just one example: corn ethanol was already determined to reduce GHG emissions by 21 percent compared to gasoline in 2005, according to the analysis. Yet, the EPA’s analysis for the RFS2 assumes corn ethanol GHG reductions won’t reach 21 percent until 2022.

The EPA’s analysis also assumes the carbon intensity of crude oil will be the same in 2022 as it was in 2005, a presumption that has already been disproven by the real-world increase in the carbon intensity of crude oil. “As unconventional sources of crude oil have grown in recent years, the carbon intensity of petroleum fuels has increased above the baseline levels initially identified in the Renewable Fuel Standard…” according to the authors, who call on EPA to address several shortcomings with its analysis.

RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen made the following comments on the results of the new study. “When it comes to ethanol’s carbon footprint, biofuel critics and some regulatory agencies are unfortunately stuck in the past. We don’t need to wait until 2022 for corn ethanol to deliver on its promise to reduce GHG emissions. This study uses the latest data and modeling tools to show that corn ethanol has significantly reduced GHG emissions from the transportation sector since enactment of the original RFS in 2005.”

“Further,” said Dinneen, “the report highlights that ethanol’s GHG performance will continue to improve and diverge with crude oil sources that will only get dirtier as time goes on. When ethanol is appropriately compared to the unconventional petroleum sources it is replacing at the margin, the GHG benefits are even more obvious. We urge EPA officials to closely examine this new information and make good on their commitment to ensure the RFS regulations are based on the latest data and best available science.”

Other key findings and recommendations from the study can be found here.

Posted in biofuelsEnvironmentEthanolOilResearchRFALeave a reply

 
Hearing with the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies - Grassley Opening Statement PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 08:58

Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary

“The Report of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies”

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing.  I join you in welcoming the members of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies.

This is the latest in a series of hearings on the government’s surveillance authorities that the Committee has held.  The NSA continues to be of great concern to my constituents and many across our country.

The most important responsibility of government is to protect our national security, while at the same time preserving our civil liberties.  This is a responsibility that’s getting harder to meet.  Rapid changes in technology are making our enemies more lethal, our world more interconnected, and our privacy more subject to possible intrusion.

Under these circumstances, it’s useful to hear a variety of perspectives, including from those outside government.  I thank the members of the Review Group for their service.

Some of the conclusions in the Review Group’s report may help clarify the issues before us as we consider possible reforms.

First, according to the report, “although recent disclosures and commentary have created the impression in some quarters that NSA surveillance is indiscriminate and pervasive across the globe, that is not the case.”  Moreover, the report concludes, “we have not uncovered any official efforts to suppress dissent or any intent to intrude into people’s private lives without legal justification.”

None of this means that the potential for abuse of these authorities shouldn’t concern us.  It should.  Or that the NSA hasn’t made serious mistakes.  Or that the law in this area couldn’t be improved.  Indeed, there’s a place for additional transparency, safeguards and oversight in this area. But these conclusions are helpful in clarifying the issues before us.

Second, the report recommends that “the national security of the United States depends on the continued capacity of NSA and other agencies to collect essential information.  In considering proposals for reform, now and for the future, policymakers should avoid the risk of overreaction and take care in making changes that could undermine the   capabilities of the Intelligence Community.”  This seems like good advice.

One recommendation that may reflect this advice is the Review Group’s proposal to preserve the government’s controversial ability to query telephone metadata, but with some changes.

One of those recommended changes is that private entities hold the metadata.  This is an interesting idea perhaps worth investigating.  But I’m concerned that it may create as many privacy problems as it solves.  Indeed, private companies seem to be allowing their customers’ information to be hacked on what seems like a daily basis.

Just as importantly, I’m concerned that in other instances the Review Group may not have followed its own advice.  Some of its other recommendations may seriously threaten our national security, especially if adopted collectively.

For example, some of the recommendations in the report appear to make it more difficult to investigate a terrorist than a common criminal.

Some appear to extend the rights of Americans to foreigners without a good reason.

And some appear to rebuild the wall between our law enforcement and national security communities that existed before September 11, 2001.  Of course, that wall helped contribute to our inability to detect and thwart the attack on that day.  Thousands died as a result.

I don’t mean to criticize the effort or intentions of the Review Group.  But I’m concerned that the group was given such a relatively short time to do their work.  As a result, for example, I understand the group spent only one day at the NSA.

I’m also concerned that the group lacked some important perspectives.  For example, none of its members has any experience supervising terrorism investigations at the Department of Justice or the FBI.

And I’m concerned that the group produced a large number of recommendations, but didn’t develop many of them fully.

As the Review Group wrote, its recommendations “will require careful assessment by a wide range of relevant officials, with close reference to the likely consequences.”  I look forward to beginning that process today, and again welcome our witnesses.

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Quad City Engineering and Science Council Award Nominations Due By January 31, 2014 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Christine Cournoyer   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 10:14

The Quad City Science and Engineering Council is Accepting Nominations for 2014 Awards through January 31, 2014. The 6 award categories are: Junior Engineer (less than 36 years old), Senior Engineer (36 years old or greater), Junior Scientist (less than 36 years old), Senior Scientist (36 years old or greater), Lifetime Achievement Award and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Teacher of the Year. Any technical society, business, organization, or individual may submit as many nominations as they wish. The awards will be announced at the 52nd Annual National Engineers Week Banquet tentatively scheduled for February 20, 2014.  The nomination form and more information can be found on our website:www.qcesc.org

Scholarship Applications Available for High School Seniors interested in STEM Degree Due January 17, 2014

The Quad-City Engineering and Science Council, or QCESC, has released its 2014 scholarship application at www.qcesc.org.  Applications must be mailed by January 17, 2014. The scholarships will be awarded at its 52nd annual National Engineers Week banquet on February 20th. Last year 11 scholarships were awarded worth $18,000.

These scholarships are awarded based on academics, extracurricular activities (which include work and community service), and leadership experience. An essay on career goals and why the applicant is interested in a STEM-related field is also required.

High school seniors from Henry, Mercer, Rock Island, and Whiteside counties in Illinois; and Clinton Louisa, Muscatine, and Scott counties in Iowa are eligible to apply. For more information and to download the form, please visit www.qcesc.org

 
VOTEVETS LAUNCHES POWERFUL TELEVISION AD CAMPAIGN SUPPORTING RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jeremy Funk   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 13:56

Ad featuring Iraq War Veteran to Run in Iowa, DC

Des Moines, IA – The largest progressive group of veterans in America, with over 360,000 supporters, VoteVets.org, is today launching a powerful new television ad in Iowa, aimed at protecting the bipartisan Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The ad buy is nearly $110,000 for one week of time in the Des Moines market as well as in Washington, D.C., where it will be seen by decision makers on the issue.  The group promised more ads will be coming in the next few weeks.

Today’s ad features an Iraq War Veteran, Michael Connolly, making the case that gutting the Renewable Fuel Standard would allow for a greater flow of oil dollars to our enemies, who use that money for weaponry that has targeted our troops.  Connolly, who served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008, lived in Glenwood, Iowa from 2010 to 2012, and now lives just across the border, in Nebraska.

The ad opens with a massive explosion in front of a military convoy. Connolly says, “War is dangerous. I know. I was there.  Now, people ask me all the time how they can support the troops.” Holding a yellow ribbon, Connolly says, “By putting one of these on your car?  Sure…” And then in front of an ethanol gas pump, “By putting this in your tank?  Even better… More renewable fuels, like the kind grown here in Iowa, means we use less foreign oil. And that means less money for our enemies.  But the oil companies are trying to kill renewable fuels.”

The full script is below.  The ad can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cqc2-D51Iw.

The facts back up Connolly’s words.  Although the United States often does not directly buy oil from hostile nations, like Iran, America’s dependence on oil drives up demand, and prices of oil on the world market, which benefits all oil-rich nations.  Those oil dollars allowed Iran, for instance, to produce and ship Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) to Iraqi insurgents, who used them to target our troops.1

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates for every one billion gallons of ethanol produced, 10,000 to 20,000 jobs are added to our domestic economy.2 According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the ethanol Industry supports around 55,000 jobs in Iowa, and accounts for $5.4 billion of Iowa’s GDP.3 Gutting the RFS would threaten the development of next generation biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol plants in Iowa scheduled to start operation next year.  Rather than using kernels of corn, these advanced plants will make the fuel from the “biomass” of various low-value plant material including corn stalks and wood chips.

VoteVets.org is one of the groups leading the way in calling for the EPA to protect the RFS, and is urging its members and supporters to, as well.  Along with a coalition of groups, VoteVets.org is collecting petition signatures from everyday Americans who want to see us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, protect our troops, and create jobs.

Founded in 2006,  and backed by over 360,000 supporters, the mission of VoteVets.org is to use public issue campaigns and direct outreach to lawmakers to ensure that troops abroad have what they need to complete their missions, and receive the care they deserve when they get home. VoteVets.org also recognizes veterans as a vital part of the fabric of our country and will work to protect veterans' interests in their day-to-day lives. VoteVets.org is committed to the destruction of terror networks around the world - with force when necessary - to protect America.  While non-partisan, the group is the largest progressive organization of veterans in America.


Sources:

1 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/

2 http://www.growthenergy.org/

3 http://www.iowacorn.org/en/

 

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Midland Communications Helps Customers Make the Move to Cloud-Based Services PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by AJ Odish   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 08:35
Leading Unified Communications Provider Offer Solutions to Enhance Customer Profitability

DAVENPORT, IA - December 31st, 2013 - Midland Communications, a leading provider of unified communications, announced a new program today that enables businesses to migrate from hardware-based technology to cloud-based services. This transition has been accelerated largely due to the maturity of cloud-based services, and their ability to deliver a dramatic competitive advantage across several industries. The impetus for Midland Communications' initiative lies in advancements that have made this technology cost-effective for the majority of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Midland Communications' cloud-based services enhance their customers' mobility, security and strategic IT capabilities.
The primary reasons that many SMBs look into cloud-based services are for the inherent benefits of mobility, freedom and workforce flexibility. Midland Communications has been able to eliminate the notion of being "chained" to on premise equipment such as servers or traditional desktops. The average employee is in-and-out of the office and can hardly afford to spend time making additional trips to the office to retrieve files, access certain programs and collaborate with team members. According to Global Workplace Analytics, "Regular telecommuting grew by 79.7% between 2005 and 2012...".  It's no secret that the days of the 9 to 5 business are long gone and the increase in the resulting mobile workforce has created a need for employees to stay connected with company data while having the freedom to be away from the office. Virtual workspaces now allows for complete collaboration across various departments regardless of location or hardware.
Further flexibility can be found in the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) environment. Employees can access company data across multiple devices, operating systems and much more. For example, salespeople can create sales presentations at the office, drive out to an appointment, and make last minute revisions on their iPad while accessing all of the programs, tools and files that are hosted in the cloud. Businesses that can operate on-the-fly have a huge advantage over their competitors.  This is why so many organizations are moving towards this type of technology.
Additionally, cloud-based services have enhanced security features as well. SMBs should make certain that providers deliver enterprise-grade services such as virus, malware, spyware and rogue employee protection. Customers should also expect 24x7x365 network monitoring and system support so they can always be confident that their data is safe and accessible. Midland Communications offers solutions with security measures in place that are on par with military-grade data encryption and have built-in redundancy across the network.
Lastly, the growth in cloud-based services has enabled providers like Midland Communications to take over the day-to-day management of technology so the customer can concentrate on growing their business. Most business owners have recognized the benefits associated with getting their staff "working ON the business" rather than "working IN it."
"Many cloud-services have evolved from being a cheap, low-cost alternative to becoming more secure than the majority of on-premise solutions," stated Jason Smith, Vice President of Midland Communications. "There are significant advantages of moving from on-premise equipment to the cloud and it is our role to educate our customers as well as make it an easy transition."

ABOUT MIDLAND COMMUNICATIONS

Midland Communications began more than 60 years ago in 1946 as the Worldwide Marketing Arm of Victor-Animagraph Projectors. In 1977 a communications division was formed due to a partnership with NEC America. Today, As a distributor of NEC America, for 33 years, Midland Communications has a customer base of more than 3,000 satisfied customers that include general businesses, government agencies, Universities, colleges, hospitals, and hotels.
Midland provides a wide range of communication services including VOIP, PBX and key systems, Wide Area and Local Area networking, computers, Computer integration, voice mail, CCIS, and video conferencing and paging systems. Our philosophy is simple, provide quality products at a fair price, backed by an average emergency response time of twenty minutes, and the best service in the industry. For more information on Midland Communications, call (563) 326-1237 or visit www.midlandcom.com.

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